Stranger’s Gift

A friend stops by the library on my shift and offers hand-me-downs from her coworker I’ve never met. I lift pastel cotton t-shirts, a linen skirt, an embroidered sleeveless blouse: summer things that whisper to me of sunnier days, bare feet on grass, a season not too far off in Vermont’s snowy April but requiring memory and imagination.

At the paper bag bottom are two handmade sweaters. A knitter myself, I lift the blue one and immediately see this is a pattern I would have loved to knit, in this well-spun wool. The knitter was ordered, with evenly placed buttons and mirror sleeve caps, and practical, too: one cuff has a pattern slip I might have made and not redone.

While my friend keeps talking, I ease my arms into the sweater, and, although I’m so small I’m nearly in the land of the Oompla Loompas, the cardigan fits me perfectly, all the way down to the right length of sleeves, as if this unknown creator was my doppelgänger.

The second, white sweater I merely admire with my fingertips and leave for someone else, whose name I’ll never know.

Don’t touch my plumtree!
Said my friend and saying so…
Broke the branch for me.

– Bashō

FullSizeRender
Photo by Gabriela

 

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

4 comments

  1. That is one gorgeous sweater! How lucky to find a perfect fit as well. Perhaps things are aligning for you, just in small steps?

  2. Love the texture in that sweater – what a great hand me down! I always wonder what I’ll do with the sweaters that I make for my daughter when she outgrows them. I don’t think many people want wool for toddlers. Maybe a lot of frogging in my future….

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